“I was set up,” I explained to a friend and laughed. “Everything was perfect. I would have agreed to anything.” With a broad smile, I told my friend how on a perfect day at the end of the summer, my daughter and I went to the park. When I stopped the van in front of the water, I turned to my daughter and asked “Can you pull out the wheelchair?” I explained, “We can take the path we’ve not taken before.” She shrugged an “okay” and pulled out the wheelchair from the back of the van. When I showed her the new path I had found, a path that was paved and totally accessible, I sat in the wheelchair and she pushed me down to the water. My friend smiled, as I described how I sat facing the water, enjoying the sound of the waves hitting the rocks and the warmth of the sun on my face. My daughter and I talked about school starting, summer ending and nothing in between. And then she asked, “Would you ever want to get a dog?” I was relaxed and pleased to be somewhere outside with my daughter and replied, “Oh, I love dogs!” I smiled and closed my eyes into the sun, “I would love to have one.”
Then I remembered ‘How To Be A Parent’ and told her, “If we had a dog, you along with your brother and sister would have to take care of it.” Every parent says that, but because I have MS, she knows I mean it. She shares the cooking, setting the table, serving of supper, and cleaning up after supper with her siblings. (They do not plan meals, nor do they budget. I do that. And, I hire help to get the week’s shopping done and to cook up two to three meals a week.) I warned her, “dogs are expensive and a lot of work. It’ll be like having a little baby. I want you to make a list of all the expenses and the work involved.” And then, I gave her a glimmer of hope, “and we’ll see if we can do it.”
The odds were against me: the sun, the summer breeze, and my daughter’s company. I was relaxed and gave her an open and sincere response. When we got home, she immediately told her sister, “Mom said we could have a dog.” At which point I thought ‘damn’, but responded with: “No, I said to make a list of all the expenses and seriously look at what’s involved and I’d think about it.” Every child knows when they hear the phrase: “I’d think about it…” chances are, things will work out in their favour.
I was doomed, when I did think about it. I realized I would enjoy the company of a little dog. The teenagers I live with come and go. I would enjoy the company. Training a dog could be a new hobby. I sat by myself and I thought about it and told myself: “No! you can’t, you have MS.” My heart sank to the floor and I felt irrepressibly sad. I can’t always say: “No!” Sometimes, I have to say, “Yes! It will be hard and it doesn’t make any sense, but I’ll figure it out.” And so, I did something presumably irresponsible, I took on the care of another little life, even when I need help to do a lot of things for myself. And now he’s one year old…